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China figure skating duo return to form in Shanghai

SHANGHAI (AFP) –

Chinese figure skating duo Pang Qing and Tong Jian

Chinese figure skating duo Pang Qing and Tong Jian, pictured in action in October 2012, are poised to seize the pairs title at the Cup of China after a welcome return to form on Friday, while the Japanese team had mixed fortunes in the singles categories.

Chinese figure skating duo Pang Qing and Tong Jian are poised to seize the pairs title at the Cup of China after a welcome return to form on Friday, while the Japanese team had mixed fortunes in the singles categories.

China’s Olympic silver medallists, who withdrew from international competition last season, entered the three-day event in Shanghai as strong favourites to take the pairs title.

Pang and Tong won silver at the 2012 Skate America last month, but are expected to go one better at Shanghai as a short program put them at the top of the pairs category with 68.57 points, with two days of competition still to go.

“Technically we are still unstable since we missed last season,” Tong told state media.

“The most important thing for us is to find back our rhythm and confidence.”

Meanwhile, Japan’s Mao Asada suffered a disappointing night when she was outshone by Russian world junior champion Julia Lipnitskaia, who was making her Grand Prix debut.

But Asada, a two-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist, said she was pleased with her new program.

“I was quite nervous before the competition. But my new program performance was very successful today,” she said.

The Japanese men dominated the singles category, with Daisuke Takahashi well in front on 84.79 points, while compatriot Tatsuki Machida was second on 83.48.

European champions and top seeds Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat are in pole position in the ice dance category.

The Cup of China is the third of six events on the ISU Grand Prix tour.

This year’s International Skating Union final will be held next month at the venue selected for the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi.

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